What happens if you are arrested or face criminal charges in Queens? Learn about your rights, our services, and what to expect with these FAQs from Queens Defenders.
Frequently Asked Questions
What kind of cases does Queens Defenders (QD) handle?
QD handles criminal cases, as well as related family court cases such as custody and visitation. QD also handles some related immigration matters.
Who is eligible for QD’s legal services?
To be eligible for our services, clients must be financially unable to retain private counsel. In addition, they must be facing criminal charges in Queens County Criminal Court. Queens Defenders attorneys are most often assigned by the court in arraignments following an arrest. To inquire about income guidelines and requirements, please call us at (718) 261-3047.
What are my rights when being questioned?
You do not have to speak with police or prosecutors when questioned. The U.S. constitution gives you the rights to remain silent and have an attorney present with you during questioning.
Share this with police and prosecutors:
- I will not waive my constitutional rights to remain silent and have my attorney present.
- I do not wish to answer any questions without speaking to my attorney first.
- I will not consent to participate in any search until I have spoken to my attorney.
Call Queens Defenders before speaking with the police or prosecutors.
What’s the difference between a public defender and the District Attorney?
The District Attorney of Queens County files criminal charges against a defendant. A public defender is assigned by the court to zealously represent the defendant against those criminal charges.
What happens after I’m arrested?
After someone is arrested, several things may happen: First, the person will be taken to the precinct. The police officer may issue this person a desk appearance ticket (DAT) with a requirement to appear in court on a future date. If the police officer proceeds with the arrest, the person will be searched and their personal items kept for safekeeping. The person will be issued a voucher with the items listed.
If the arrest proceeds, the person will be brought to the courthouse. There, the person will meet the attorney who will represent them at the arraignment. An arraignment is where defendants find out the charges against them. The District Attorney (DA) may make an offer to resolve the case, which is known as a plea offer. If the person is interested, the case may be resolved right at the arraignment. Sometimes, the DA does not make an offer, or the person is not satisfied with the offer made. In those cases, the person will receive another court date. At that time the judge will determine whether or not to release the person or set bail in a specific amount.
How do I find out who my lawyer is?
If your lawyer is from Queens Defenders, call (718) 261-3047 and provide the receptionist with your name and/or docket number. If your attorney is from the Legal Aid Society, call (718) 286-2000. If your attorney is from the 18-b panel please call (212) 676-0099.
The police took my belongings when I was arrested. How do I get them back?
At the time of arrest, the police will issue you a voucher with the property taken listed. Contraband cannot be retrieved. Some property may be held as arrest evidence and cannot be released until the case is resolved. For property that is being held as evidence, you will need both a property voucher and a District Attorney release form.
For property that is not being held as evidence, you can go to the precinct of arrest with the property voucher to retrieve your property. If time has passed, the precinct may send your property to the property clerk for storage. If the property is not at the precinct of arrest, the officers there can locate where it is being held using your property voucher number.
What should I wear in court?
Wear clothes that are modest, clean, and which fit you well. Your attire should demonstrate that you understand that this is a serious occasion.
What time should I arrive to court?
Before entering the courthouse, there is a long line for security, which often causes delays. Please get to court early, before 9:00am.
How can I find out what courtroom my case is in?
After going through the metal detectors, in the lobby there is a large brown cork board. This board holds the daily calendar for all court parts. Look for your name and the court part your case is listed under. You can also ask a court officer for assistance or go to room G-64 and ask for help.
How do I find out the date when my case is scheduled?
What do I do if I missed my court date?
You should return to the courthouse where you had the court date as soon as possible, during business hours. It is possible the judge may have issued a warrant for your arrest. Contact your attorney for further information.
What do I do if I know I have a warrant?
If the court issued the warrant, you should go to that courthouse as soon as possible during business hours. Please contact your attorney for further information. Upon arrival at the courthouse, let a court officer know you have a warrant and they can direct you to the clerk’s office.
Why do I have to keep coming to court when the police and/or complaining witness keep failing to appear?
Despite popular belief, the complaining witness and police officers are not required for every court date. Routine calendar calls and other procedural matters do not require their appearance. The people’s witnesses are only required to appear when needed to testify. By contrast, defendants are required to come to court each date. Consult with your attorney for further information specific to your case.
Why do I always have a different lawyer?
Queens Defenders has many lawyers on staff. As such, members of the QD team may assist fellow lawyers from time to time. Perhaps your attorney is performing a hearing, engaged in a trial, or ill. In such instances, other attorneys will need to fill in. Generally speaking, after arraignment one attorney will be handling your case. You can call QD at (718) 261-3047 to find out who is assigned to your case.
What language services are available?
QD has staff members who speak Spanish, Korean, Cantonese, Creole, Russian, Punjabi, Hindi, and Urdu. We also have access to interpreters that can supplement any language needs.
How do I locate someone in jail?
For someone being housed in a New York City jail, visit: http://a073-ils-web.nyc.gov/inmatelookup/pages/common/find.jsf
For someone being housed in an upstate prison, visit: http://nysdoccslookup.doccs.ny.gov/
How do I post bail?
To post bail in Queens: Rikers Island Facility at Hazen Street, East Elmhurst, NY 11370. Phone: (212) 266-1500.
To post bail in the Bronx (at the barge): Vernon C. Bain Facility at One Halleck St, Bronx, NY 10474. Phone: (718) 579-8314.
How do I visit someone in a city jail or a state prison?
For visitation information for someone in state prison, visit: http://www.doccs.ny.gov/Visitation/index.html
For someone in a New York City jail, visit: http://www.nyc.gov/html/doc/html/visit-an-inmate/visit-schedule.shtml